The proud Scot - who now lives in Windermere, Florida – needed all his battling qualities to fight his way up the field in the #2 Ford Riley. He had an excellent crowd on its feet as he started the last lap in third place, but finished just four tenths of a second down in second place.
But that only tells part of the story. Starworks team-mate Alex Popow, from Venezuela, had qualified the car in seventh place. He had climbed two places before he was sent spinning at Turn 15. That dropped him to 11thwhen he handed over to Ryan with just over two hours to go.
Ryan, originally from Airdrie in Lanarkshire, Scotland, soon had the #2 car up to 10th and, within 25 laps, was up to second for the Fort Lauderdale-based team.
A yellow flag caution put him down the field again, but he was in third place going into the final lap. He passed Scott Pruett’s Chip Ganassi BMW, then hunted down Alex Gurney and the two crossed the line almost together.
RYAN SAYS: “We will have to invent a new word for ‘charge’. I don’t think I have ever driven so hard in the last four laps of a race. The car was excellent and we came into the race full of confidence. We got involved in that incident at the start, but we got back on track.
“The car was damaged after the hit but it tells you how fast we could have been - to be that good with a damaged car. Alex and the whole Starworks crew did a great job and we are really proud of this result.
Description: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/2/images/cleardot.gif“That last yellow didn’t help us. I think, if it hadn’t been for that we could have won it.
“It was an amazing race - I hope that everyone enjoyed it! It was hard. We knew where our strengths and weaknesses were going to be heading into the weekend and went down our own path in terms of strategy.
“We struggled a bit with straight line speed and with one more lap maybe we could have got the win. But we go away with good points and have risen up to third in the Series. Overall, it’s a great result for the #2 car, Team Popow and everyone at Starworks.”
NOTES: Ryan will next be in action for SRT Motorsports in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring between March 13 and 16.
The next round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama, April 3-6, 2013.
Ryan managed a career-best second place in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2012, with a win at Watkins Glen, second place in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and third at Sahlen’s Six Hours Of The Glen and Laguna Seca. He also won the Rolex 24 in 2010.
He had four Rolex Grand-Am podiums in 2011 – a win at Mid-Ohio and third at Barber, Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. He also had three fourth-place finishes. Ryan also gave Starworks Motorsport its first DP victory, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in 2008.
Ryan and Starworks Motorsport won the FIA World Endurance LMP2 Championship, thanks to class wins at Sebring in Florida, the Le Mans 24 Hours and Brazil. They were also on the podium at Silverstone in the UK, Japan, China and Bahrain.
He also grabbed an American Le Mans Series LMPC class wins at Petit Le Mans, Baltimore and Long Beach in California as well as a third place in class at Mosport in Canada.
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